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Denver ER Doc
Denver ER Doc, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 1495
Experience:  Small Animal Medicine and Surgery Internship, Veterinary Acupuncture trained, Wildlife and Exotics
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Hi. I found my cat had caught a bird at about 5pm today. I

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Hi. I found my cat had caught a bird at about 5pm today. I think it is a young Starling. It has feathers but I don't think it is capable of flight yet. It is in a box and kept warm. Unfortunately my local wildlife rescue centre that I called aren't taking in any more animals at the moment. I should be able to take it somewhere tomorrow as long as it survives the night. At first it was looking up at me for food and I tried feeding it chopped up cat food but wasn't too successful. It is obviously in some distress now as there appears to be a load of air trapped under its skin around the back of its neck and now isn't even trying to look up for food. I am not sure what to do! Thanks

Hi there,


You're probably not going to like this answer, but I used to run a wildlife clinic and we used to see a lot of injured and orphaned starlings.


If you are seeing air coming up under the skin, the bird likely ruptured an air sac or two when she fell from the tree or was picked up by an animal. There is no real treatment for it; some survive if the sac spontaneously seals. Many die of suffocation. A healthy young starling should be gaping for food (opening the beak and "begging"). If not, it is clearly in distress.


It will not likely survive the night. Honestly the best thing you can do for it is to get it to a veterinary ER so they can humanely euthanize it.


Dr. Paul

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi many thanks for your honest answer. I had read online about piercing the skin with a needle to release the air but as you haven't mentioned that am guessing this won't help?

You can try it, but it will only work if the sac has spontaneously sealed. Otherwise, you have basically just opened up its airway to the outside world. :(


As a side note, starlings are considered invasive in most of the country. Many facilities will euthanize them as soon as they come in.


Dr. Paul

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